Once upon a time there was a coach at Tennessee named Bruce Pearl who came under sanction from the NCAA. Then he sat out, did some analyst work for ESPN, and waited for his show-cause period to end. Once that was over, he was hired by Auburn to be its new basketball coach and Pearl was handed a roster of kids he did not recruit. It was inevitable that some would want to go elsewhere and not play for a man who did not recruit them.
One such kid is Benas Griciunas (BEN-is Greh-see-O). He was a freshman last year from Silute, Lithuania and the first thing that you would notice about him is that he is seven feet tall. Griciunas spent his high school ball playing for Findlay Prep and was recruited by Auburn along with Dion Wade.
When Coach Tony Barbee got fired, Griciunas looked for another landing spot and chose the Charlotte 49ers.
What are the 49ers getting?
In high school, Griciunas played like your stereotypical European big man. He became a seven footer, sure, but he was also a good shooter. Griciunas is part of the Lithuanian National Team for basketball and plays in their U-20 division at the moment. He played sparingly for Auburn as a freshman and only averaged 2 pts a game.
The key aspect of Griciunas is his size, which is something that does not fall into your lap like this. He is a true transfer, so he will sit out this season. He will have three more seasons left when he does emerge from his transfer year and the 49ers will find thins for him to do. So this is not just a gamble on size, but a gamble on the future. It would be interesting to discover what kind of practice player he is this season.